Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends but is not always an easy time for people living with dementia and their loved ones. It can be a busy time, and with this may come changes to your routine. This can add to confusion and cause anxiety for both the person living with dementia and carers.
The Empowered Conversations team have put together some tips to cope and help you enjoy the festive season.
Tip 1: Try and keep things as normal as you can…get up, go to bed, eat and do what’s normal for you. Ensure you have enough medication and support on hand if you need it and try to plan ahead.
Tip 2: Social activities may increase- seeing more people, visiting or having people come to your house heightens our senses especially noise levels (music in shops, talking, laughter). People can feel overwhelmed. Carers may feel they have to carry on traditions for the need of others but try and take time out, even if its 5 mins to have quite space for yourself, avoid thinking or saying `I ought to’ or `I should’ and talk to family and friends about any worries you have to elevate stress and avoid family conflicts. Be aware of body language, is your loved one becoming quiet or distressed? Can you visit people so that you can leave the noise and mess behind and go home?
Tip 3: There are always lots of traditional things to do at Christmas (present buying, card writing, food shopping) and with this can come added stress. Think, are these necessary? Is there an alternative? (like donating money to charity) These may free up your time to do what you want and feel able to cope with.
Tip 4: We all have that friend who’s done all the `Christmas jobs’ by November. Let’s remind ourselves that we are good enough, not perfect. Don’t compare to how you feel inside with how others appear outside. Delegate or ask for help.
Tip 5: Are you feeling overwhelmed and emotional? Speak to someone you know about how you feel. If you don’t like talking to people you know, join an online carer’s chat forum or group.
Tip 6: Christmas can bring back happy memories, if it does, spend time reminiscencing and make new memories. Sing Christmas carols or hymns together and look through photo albums of past Christmas’.
Tip 7: Keep warm and well through the cold winter days. Wear winter woollies, munch on healthy snacks, be careful when it’s icy, book your flu jab, be drink aware, ensure you have enough medicines, and stay active.
Tip 8: Be prepared- have a plan B. Speak to family and friends and make a plan in case you need it. It may include telephone numbers of crisis helplines, a transport timetable or taxi or pharmacy numbers.
Tip 9: Think coping strategies- what normally helps you in times of stress? Walk in the park, coffee with friends, practicing mindfulness? Whatever it is, allow yourself time.
Tip 10: Visit our website to see when we have Empowered Conversations carers workshops in the new year and learn more about our one-to-one online resource – Empowered Carers.